God Calls Ida Peterfy

1940: Ida Peterfy's Life Changing Retreat

1941: Hermine Jascko and Aurelia Majorossy join

1943: Eva Batta joins

1946: Agnes Raday and Helen Clare Nagy join

1948: Encouraged to leave Hungary

1940:  Life changing event described in Sister Ida’s own words:

“A great change in my relationship to God took place during the first silent retreat in my life, before my senior year.  It was held right after the summer camp for the poor children.  In the quietness of the retreat, two ideas struck me, stood out as vital; something that had never occurred to me before.  One thought was God’s relationship to me.  Until then, I felt that the initiative

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Sister Ida’s school photo

to contact God, to know, love and serve Him was ‘my doing.’  During this retreat, the newness of God loving me first, knowing me by name, choosing me as His child in Baptism, brought forth a new response of awe and a very personal love.  Jesus became totally an ‘insider’ who did not only love me ‘in general’ but one who was in love with me very personally.

The thought that ‘the Church’ needs to do something to teach the children became an urgent reality. With the threat of Nazi invasion of the country it became an even more urgent reality.  The solution seemed very clear and simple in the light of the retreat, ‘You are the Church, you, teach the children.’”

On October 7, 1940, her 18th birthday, Ida professes private perpetual vows before the Blessed Sacrament in the Franciscan

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A passport photo of Ida Peterfy

Church in Kassa, Hungary.  This marks the Foundation Day of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

1941:  With co-workers and the encouragement of the mayor, Sister Ida is asked to organize the preparation of the youth for public Consecration of the City of Kassa to the Sacred Heart on June 24, 1941.  Bishop Joseph Madarasz warmly approves the work and attends the youth rallies.  He publicly endorses and praises Sister Ida’s dynamic address and explanation of the Novena preparation for the Consecration of the youth.  The Bishop compares her to Margaret Schlachta, foundress of the Sisters of Social Service who was also born in Kassa before World War I.

Through the Actio Catholica, Sister Ida organizes the consecration of youth to the Sacred Heart in various cities across the country from 1941 – 1946.

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This picture was taken in 1942 following the first Community 8 day silent Retreat in 1942. Since Sister Ida’s father had recently died she is in black in the center. Sister Hermine is on the left of Sister Ida and Sister Aurelia sits in front of her. Sister Ida’s mother is standing in the back, also in black

1942:  In July of 1941, Hermine Jaschko, first companion of Sister Ida, professes her first vows in Esztergom.  Soon after, Aurelia Majorossy joins the Community.

In September, Sister Ida begins studies at Pazmany Peter University of Budapest.  She majors in Latin so that she can read the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (not yet translated into Hungarian) and so that she can understand the Liturgy.  Sister Ida also conducts leadership courses for young women and catechetical enrichment programs.

In December, Sister Aurelia professes her first vows.

1942:  The Community (which has to operate in secret because of the Nazi occupation) opens a business school in Kassa.  The business school provides a legitimate title for the

Sisters to live together in community and provides a financial support for them.   Sister Hermine and Sister Aurelia had both just received their teaching diplomas and so were qualified to run the business school.

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Eva Batta

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Aurelia Majorossy

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Hermine Jaschko

1943:  Eva Batta officially joins the Community, although she will not finish school until 1945.

1944:  As World War II is coming to an end, the frequent bombings of Budapest and major industrial centers begins to paralyze Hungary.  The University of Budapest does not open for the Fall of 1944.  Despite this, Sister Ida decides to stay in Budapest to continue ministries with adults and young people.

December 24, 1944, the Russian occupation of Hungary intensifies.

Sister Ida and a Sister companion move from Budapest to Szekesfehervar, Hungary where they are under the protection of Msgr. Imre Pottyondy, Vicar of the Bishop.

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Sister Ida with her characteristic smile which radiated joy in all circumstances

1945:  Sister Aurelia is taken to Russia as a prisoner of war; and works in a coal mine for 2 ½ years.  made a “lending library” from the pages of her Missal to other prisoners. She was only released from Russia when a beam fell on her back in a coal mine and broke her vertebrae

During the oppression of the Communist occupation in Hungary and the constant threat of danger to Sister Ida and her Sisters, on Easter in 1945, Sister Ida formulates her “Panic Prayer,” a prayer of complete trust in God,  which her Sisters still pray today.

POST WORLD WAR II

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Sister Ida circa 1945

 

Kassa becomes Kosice, Czechoslovakia again.

Sister Ida continues her studies and receives her M.A. with distinction in Hungarian and Latin Linguistics and Literature and acquires her High school teaching credentials.

At the same time, Sister Ida is employed as the national secretary for the Actio Catholica (Catholic Action) and works with the Sacred Heart League.

Catechetical formation courses are conducted by Sister Ida in major Hungarian cities including Budapest and Győr.

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Agnes Raday and Helen Clare Nagy

1946: Sister Ida receives her Ph.D. with distinction in Philosophy and excellence in Pedagogy.

During this year the first Constitutions of the Community are completed.

September 29, Agnes Raday joins the Community.  Soon after, Helen Clare Nagy also joins.

Sister Ida and Sisters undertake printing of “Tele-Course” (Tavkurzus), a catechetical periodical, with the blessing of Cardinal Mindszenty.  Father Viragh, SJ writes articles on theology, while Sister Ida contributes methods and lesson plans.  The Sisters mimeograph and distribute the periodical even though this is against Communist law.  After each use, the machine has to be dismantled and the parts carefully hidden.  So as not to arouse suspicion from authorities, the periodical is mailed from a number of post offices and hand-delivered where possible.

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Sister Ida in winter 1948

1948: In July, Sister Agnes and Sister Helen Clare profess their First Vows.

On December 26, 1948, Cardinal Josef Mindszenty is arrested.

As the political situation becomes increasingly perilous, friends and co-workers in the Hungarian hierarchy advise Sister Ida to leave the country and take the young community to the free world, that it may be developed further, and “later, when possible, return to Hungary”.